Russia Says Some Troops Withdrawing From Ukraine’s Border; NATO Chief Notes ‘Cautious Optimism’ but Sees No De-escalation Yet

MOSCOW — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday he sees reason for “cautious optimism” after Moscow signaled willingness to continue talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, and Russia said some of its troops were returning to base. But the NATO chief noted no signs of Russian de-escalation “on the ground.”

“There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels ahead of meetings with NATO defense ministers Wednesday. “There are grounds for cautious optimism. So far, we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground.”

After Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled Monday that he was open to diplomacy to resolve the crisis between Russia and NATO over Ukraine’s bid to join the alliance, Moscow sent a barrage of contradictory signals Tuesday — announcing that some Russian forces were being sent home after completing drills, even as major military exercises continued near Ukraine.

In a joint news conference Tuesday with Germany’s visiting chancellor, Putin said Russia’s military leadership “made a decision about partial withdrawal of troops” from the areas of military exercises, adding that he had no comment on this.

But U.S. and other Western officials expressed skepticism of Russia’s claims that some troops were returning to base.

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Source: MSN